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By Prof. St. George Tucker Brooke, Morgantown, W. Va. 


Biography of Hon. James Vass Brooke, by Richard N. Brooke, 

Washington, D. C. 

William Brooke, a son of Robert Brooke, Jr., of Farmer's Hall, Essex 
(the ' ' Horse Shoe Knight ' ' ), left by his first marriage with Miss Fontaine, 
descendant of John de la Fontaine, two orphan children, viz: (2) William 
and (3) Phcebe. (Essex Co. Will Book, No. 1 1, page 389.) These child- 
ren were placed in care of their uncle and guardian, his brother Robert. 

William Brooke (2) ran off to sea, became captain of a vessel, and re- 
turning, married Mary, daughter of Capt. William Beale, of Chestnut 
Hill, Richmond county. He settled at " Locust Dale," Rappahannock 
county, where he had a large landed estate, and left nine children, viz: 
(4) William, (5) Phoebe, m. McPherson ; (6) Robert, d. s ; (7) Fontaine, 
d. s., (8) Reuben, married Ann Pierce, died 1859; issue: William, Julia, 
Jeannie, George, all died single; (9) Harriet, m. McPherson; (10) 
George, m. Winifred Beale; (11) Susan, m. George Beale; (12) Whit- 
field, m. Sarah Newton; issue: Mary, Caroline, Robert. 

William Brooke (4) married Jeannie Morrison, half sister of James 
Vass, a Scotch merchant of Fredericksburg, and granddaughter of Sir 
James Cumming, Laird of Sluie, Forres, Scotland. He settled in Fal- 
mouth as exporting merchant, and had issue: (13) Isabella Cumming 
(who married Hon. Samuel Chilton). M. C, (14) Robert, (15) Fontaine, 
(16) Jane Cumming, (17) William, (18) James Vass. 

James Vass Brooke (18) was born at Falmouth, Va., October 10th, 
1824. He studied law in the office of Judge R. L. C. Moncure, the after- 
wards distinguished Chief-Justice of the Virginia Court of Appeals. 

Settling in Warrenton,he was licensed to practice law at the early age 
of nineteen, and married, in 1845, Mary, daughter of Thaddeus Norris, 
a leading merchant of Warrenton, of which marriage there were six 

James V. Brooke took an active part as public speaker in support of 
the Whig party and policies, even before he became a voter. He was a 
most ardent supporter of Henry Clay, a lock of whose silver hair, sent 
him in recognition of his support, he always cherished. He was at one 
time Commonwealth's Attorney for Fauquier, and was State Secretary 
of the American party. In 1861 he was elected to succeed Capt. J. Q. 
Marr (the " first blood of the war") as delegate to the Secession Con- 
vention, and his name appears as one of the signers of the Ordinance 
of Secession. 

The necessary arranging of matters in which he was fiduciary and 
guardian for minors prevented his enlistment upon the opening of hos- 


tilities; but in March, 1862, he organized, and took to the war, what was 
known as Brooke's Battery, attached to Poague's Battalion of Artillery, 
Jackson's Corps. 

While stationed that spring at Belle Isle for preparatory drill. Captain 
Brooke was placed in command of the well known prison camp at that 

During the Valley Campaign of J86». while extricating a gun from the 
mud, his ankle was shattered by the kick of an artillery horse. Never- 
theless he rejoined his battery on crutches in time to take an active part 
in the battle of Fredericksburg. He was acting Colonel of his regiment 
during the succeeding winter in the absence of Colonel Brown. 

By the advice of the surgeons, his wound being dangerous, he with- 
drew from active service in the spring of 1863, and entered the Virginia 
House of Delegates, where he served until the fall of Richmond. He 
took an active part there in the conduct of the war, and was member of 
the Secret Committee, which advised with the generals in the field. 

At the close of the war Mr. Brooke formed a partnership with the 
Hon. R. Taylor Scott, alterwards Attorney General of Virginia, under 
the firm name of Brooke & Scott, which partnership lasted for thirty 

Mr. Brooke practiced for fifty-five years at the Fauquier bar, the long- 
est practice of any lawyer at that bar. He also had an extensive prac- 
tice in adjoining counties, before the Court of Appeals, and before the 
Supreme Court of the United States Before the latter court he repre- 
sented John Marshall's heirs as senior counsel in the famous Potomac 
Flats case, pending at the time of his death, and afterwards argued on 
his brief. 

Before a jury he seldom lost a case, and in the Hixon Will case, in- 
volving the largest fee, perhaps, ever paid at the Loudoun bar, secured 
a verdict over the best legal talent the defense could procure in the 

He canvassed actively for every Democratic nominee for President 
from 1865 to 1896, when he supported Palmer and Buckner. He served 
many times in the Virginia Senate and House. In 1877 he was elected 
to the State Senate as an advocate of an amicable readjustment of the 
State debt, and offered at that session the first measure, the " Brooke 
Bill," which passed the Senate but failed in the House. In the ensuing 
term he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and had a leading 
hand in the extensive revision of the Code of Virginia made at that 

Mr. Brooke gave freely of his time and talents to the local affairs of 
Warrenton, serving as Mayor, Recorder and Councilman, and being 
largely instrumental in the modernization of its pavements, lighting and 
water supply. His talents, literary, poetical and oratorical, were at the 
public disposal wherever required. He was open-handed to the poor> 
and few lawyers have given so much practice without compensation. 


He was an active Mason and Knight Templar, was for forty- five years 
an elder of the Presbyterian church, and many times delegate to its 
General Assembly. He was for twenty-five years superintendent of the 
Sunday school, and in the absence of the pastor filled the pulpit for two 
years acceptably. Ha was of domestic tastes, yet fond of out of door 
sports, an ardent angler, fine shot and expert swimmer, and exceedingly 
fond of little children and domestic pets. He enjoyed a keen sense of 
humor, which lightened many trials. He passed away at his home in 
Warrenton October 9th, 1898, at the age of seventy-four, after a brief 
illness, leaving a name peculiarly honored in the county of his adoption. 

Isabella Cumming Brooke (13) married Samuel Chilton, of Warrenton, 
afterwards member of Congress, and appointed by the State to defend 
John Brown. Issue: (191 George, d. y.; (20) Marshall, d. s.; (21) Wil- 
liam, d. s.; (22) James Vass, d. s.; (23)Jeannie Brooke, married Wm. 
E. Hurxthal ; (24) Charles, d. y. 

Issue of James Vass Brooke (18) and Mary Elizabeth Norris: 

(25) William Throckmorton, City Engineer, Norfolk, Va., married 
Mary, daughter of Hon. John Goode. 

(26) Richard Norris, artist, of Washington, D. C, unmarried. Former 
Consul, La Rochelle, France. 

(27) Jeannie Morrison, married Charles Edward Fitzhugh Payne, of 
Warrenton, Va. 

(28) Janus Vass, lawyer, of Cando, North Dakota, married Annabella 
Bailey, of North Dakota. 

(29) Francis Calvert, merchant, of Warrenton, married Lavinia Sims. 

(30) Annie Amelia, died young, 1876. 

Issue of William Throckmorton Brooke and Mary (Goode) Brooke: 
(31) James Vass, (32) Mary, (33) Elizabeth Goode, (34) John Goode, (35) 
Jeannie Morrison. 

Issue of Charles E. F. Payne and Jeannie Morrison Brooke (27): (36) 
Brooke, Captain U. S. Artillery, married 1st, Grace Kingsbury, issue, 
Marion Morson, b. 1900; 2nd, Frances Bell; (37) Marion Morson, mar- 
red Dr. Morton Guthrie Douglas; (38) Mattie Byrne, married Charles 
Allen Owens, issue, Charles Allen, b. 1907 ; (39) Charles Edward Fitz- 
hugh, (40) James Keith, (41) Nannie Brooke, married Howell Peebles. 

Issue of James Vass Brooke, Jr., (23) and Annabella Brooke: (42) 
Richard Norris, (43) Jeannie Morrison, (44) James Vass, died young; 
(45) Francis Calvert. 

Issue of Francis Calvert Brooke (29) and Lavinia Brooke: (46I Francis 
Calvert, lawyer; (47) Newton. 

The Late Mrs. Walker Brooke. 
" Mrs. Walker Brooke, whose death was chronicled in The Herald, 


Sunday, was one of the oldest and best beloved of our citizens. Her 
maiden name was Jane Lewis Eskridge, and she was born at the old 
family home (Monteagle) near Charlottesville, Virginia, September 30, 
1824. She retained vivid recollections of her childhood's home and 
often spoke interestingly of her visits to Monticello nearby. When she 
was ten or twelve years of age her father moved to Mississippi and 
settled at Shongalo (now Vaiden) where in 1840, at the age of sixteen, 
she was married to Mr. Walker Brooke, a young lawyer of Richmond, 
Va. The young couple settled in Lexington, Miss., where Mr. Brooke 
rose to eminence as a lawyer and politician. About 1856 he was elected 
to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of Henry S. 
Foote. Mr. Brooke filled other important positions and had a host 
of friends who always delighted to do him honor. He moved to 
Vicksburg about 1856 and died here in February, 1869. Mrs. Brooke 
continued to reside here until her death last Saturday morning. She 
was a woman of bright mind and entertaining speech and had a 
wonderful faculty of making new friends and holding on to old ones. 
She retained all of her faculties to the last and took a deep interest in 
passing events to the day of her death. Her funeral conducted by 
Rev. J. S., was held at her late residence on Cherry street, 
Sunday afternoon and was attended by a large concourse of friends .and 
relatives. She was the eldest in a family of fifteen children and is 
survived by three sisters and two brothers. She was also the mother 
of fifteen children, nine of whom passed away many years ago. The 
six children who survive her are: Mrs. Lucy Mathews, Mr. C. M. Brooke 
of Kosciusko, Messrs. Horace and Hugh Brooke, Mrs. Jennie James 
and Miss Mary Brooke. She left also a number of grandchildren and 
and eleven great grandchildren." — The Daily Herald, Vicksburg, Miss., 
October 4, 1904. 

"An Eminent Mississippi an." 

"Among the eminent citizens who have honored Vicksburg in the 
past with their residences, none are more kindly remembered than 
Senator Walker Brooke. Senator Brooke was elected to the Senate 
of the United States to succeed Senator Foote, resigned in 1858. He 
followed his State at the breaking out of the war and was elected to 
the Senate of the Confederate States. He also served on the com- 
mittee which adopted the flag of the Confederacy. His death occurred 
in Vicksburg in 1869 and was caused by apoplexy. The view of his 
former residence was taken expressly for this edition. This old build- 
ing will soon be removed to make room for the new Presbyterian 
Church on that beautiful corner." — The Daily Herald, Vicksbarg, Miss., 

" My grandfather (Humphrey Brooke) lived at a place called Oakley 
in Clarke which was afterwards occupied by Mr. Otway Byrd. He then 


moved to a place called the 'Cottage,' where my grandfather died and 
was buried in the Old Chapel Church Yard. The ' Cottage ' was bumed 
down sometime afterwards." — From a letter from Mrs. Selden S. Wright, 
San Francisco, Cat. 

"We have on record a deed from John W. Page to Sarah W. Brooke, 
wife of Humphrey Brooke, for a portion of the estate 'Oakley.' This 
deed was admitted to record here in 1828 and the property was devised 
to John W. Page by his brother. Walker Y. Page, whose will is on 
record here. The portion deeded to Sarah W. Brooke consisted of only 
a part of the ' Oakley ' estate, and the consideration between her and 
John W. Page was something over three thousand dollars. 

Phil. H. Gold, Clerk. 

Winchester, Va., Jan. 28, 1909. 

(to be continued) 


./V. B. — On page 93, for "20 Christopher Robinson," read "10 
Christopher Robinson." He, as " Christopher, son of Christopher 
Robinson of C. M. [1. e. Co. Middlesex], in Virgin.," matriculated 
at Oriel College, Oxford, May 21, 1724, aged 19 (Foster's Oxford 

In Vol. XVI, p. 216, to children of Christopher* Robinson, add 
Elizabeth, who married Matthew Whiting, Jr. The marriage bond, 
in Middlesex, is dated March 31, 1763. John Robinson, whose will is 
printed below refers to her as his sister. 

In the Virginia Gazette of July 28, 1768, appears the following obitu- 
ary: " On Monday the 18th instant, died Christopher Robinson Esq., 
of Middlesex; a man possessed of all those good qualities that perfect 
humanity. In the character of father, husband; and friend he was 
excellent; for affection, tenderness and benevolence were the ruling 
passions of his breast. Few equalled him in virtue, fewer in piety. 
His time was spent in the uniform practice of doing good. The sick he 
administered to, the needy he assisted, and the poor he fed. Thus 
living he was by all esteemed and is now by all lamented." 

After the Virginia custom his personal estate was sold after his death 
and in the same year his executors Richard Corbin and Ralph Wormeley 
advertised that all of the personal estate of Christopher Robinson, Esq., 
would be sold on March 6, 1769, at his late dwelling house in Middle- 
sex, and that at Urbanna, on the next day, about 100 Virginia born 
slaves would be sold. 

12. John' Robinson (Christopher*), of Middlesex county, born about